The European Union’s failure to deliver economic growth and jobs has frayed public trust in democracy and fostered a nationalist climate that could reward anti-immigration, eurosceptic parties in this month’s EU elections, according to Sweden’s prime minister Fredrik Reinfeldt. Reinfeldt, a centre-right politician often compared to David Cameron, is an enthusiastic supporter of the “European ideal.” In a 2003 referendum on membership of the single currency, he was part of the unsuccessful campaign which urged Sweden to abandon the krona and join the euro. He remains a supporter of Swedish membership of the euro, despite the economic disaster of the eurozone and the continuing resistance to the euro among Swedes.
Lunacy. Free from the constraints of the currency union, Sweden was able to maneuver its way through the the financial and euro zone crises far more deftly than its unlucky Nordic peers, Finland and Denmark (Finland foolishly adopted the euro, while the Danes did the next worst thing: they pegged the krone to the single currency), and the ability to resort to occasional bouts of currency depreciation has played no small part in the success of Sweden’s impressive export sector (roughly 50 percent of GDP).
“(The economic crisis) has weakened the forces of integration or standing up for this European ideal,” [Reinfeldt] said in an interview in which he also invoked the destructive nationalism that tore Europe apart 100 years ago this summer with the outbreak of World War One.
“The kind of (nationalist) thinking behind that, which has been a problem in Europe for hundreds of years . . . is very much the same kind of thinking you see Russia now doing in Ukraine or you will see in many forces throughout Europe,” Reinfeldt said.
Defense News (from last October):
The Swedish government’s promise to bolster defense spending and inject more capital into equipment procurement programs has failed to impress the country’s military establishment.
The Defense Ministry said in September that expenditures on defense would increase by US $220 million in 2014-17, yielding an annual increase of $60 million a year. The armed forces budget for 2013 amounts to $6.2 billion. Still, the Armed Forces Command (AFC) warns in a new government-commissioned report that examines the probable state of health of national defense in future years, that a funding crisis with the potential to force the disbanding of core units is imminent unless the government backs a “significant” increase in annual spending.
“Over the long term, if the government fails to change our mandate and the resources that are allocated to us, we will be forced to disband certain units,” said Gen. Sverker Göranson, AFC chief, during an Oct. 1 news conference. Göranson created a political storm last spring when he informed the government, based on a tactical assessment of the military’s standing capability, that the armed forces would be able to only “defend Sweden for less than a week,” in the event of an attack. . . .
Sweden’s defense spending was 1.2 percent of GDP in 2012, the lowest of any Nordic or Baltic state.
Meanwhile in Poland, Poland’s otherwise tough-minded foreign minister offers up a reminder that when it comes to matters European, he can be something of a dreamer.
The Economist reports:
Ditching earlier concerns by former finance minister Jacek Rostowski, Mr Sikorski called for Poland to move rapidly to adopt the euro—the last core European institution to which Warsaw does not yet belong. “The decision about the eventual adoption of the common currency will not have just a financial and economic character, but rather it will be mainly political, dealing with our security,” said Mr Sikorski.
Let’s be clear. Even if we overlook that whole national independence thing (something for which Poles have fought for so bravely, and sacrificed so much), signing up for the euro would drag down Poland’s encouraging economic prospects, and thus weaken rather than enhance the country’s security.
Fortunately, the Polish people have better sense than their leaders:
Polish public opinion shifted away sharply from the euro in the wake of the eurozone crisis, when Poland’s economy performed well while most of the EU was mired in recession. Recent polls show about two-thirds of Poles opposed to joining the euro. The opposition Law and Justice party is also against, which makes the constitutional changes required to adopt the euro impossible to pass.